All you need to know about emission testing and vehicular exhausts

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  • Vehicles’ exhaust alone responsible for more than half of the air pollution.
  • Emission tests are aimed at ensuring the safe levels of toxic gases produced by vehicles.
  • For emission testing, you need to put your car on a dynamometer and then hook up the testing equipment to the tailpipes.
  • Pakistan lacks the institutional capacity to comply with international emission standards.
  • Emission testing, smog testing or emission inspections are actually the protocol that repeatably allows the comparable measurement of exhaust emissions.
  • Tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions are considered as the main point of difference in determining the eco-friendly performance of new vehicles.
  • The Euro Level that is listed on the Green Vehicle Guide is an indicator of the air pollution standards.
  • The main emissions from vehicular exhaust based on volume are greenhouse gases.
  • European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of vehicles.
emission_testing
Emission testing is performed on vehicles with special hardware instruments. These tests help maintain the safe levels of air pollutants.

Are you worried about your health? No! You must be worried about the health of your family? Almost everyone knows, if not more but, a little bit about environmental pollution and the various factors responsible for it. Think about the pollution and you hit the right to blame the factories, manufacturing industry and wastes.

Another reason that might scroll down is vehicular exhaust. Yes, vehicles’ exhaust alone responsible for more than half of the air pollution. You might be thinking of planting more trees in order to reduce the mess. World agencies and international organizations are working hard to bring about awareness on greenhouse gases and to follow different protocols to do away with the rising global temperatures.

5th of the June every year is dedicated as World Environment Day with the purpose of creating a global outreach for citizens in creating awareness for the protection of the environment but you better need to focus what other countries of the world used to call as ’emission testing’.

What is emission testing?

Emission testing, smog testing or emission inspections are actually the protocol that repeatably allows the comparable measurement of exhaust emissions for different vehicles. Different Governments and working groups issue different types of emission tests. These emission tests fall into three categories based on the commonly used hardware platforms and are named as engine test stand, dynamometer(for a complete car engine) and ASM.

How an emission test is performed?

All engines of the vehicles give off emissions and for the purpose of emission testing you need to put your car on a dynamometer and then hook up the testing equipment to the tailpipes but this is the case for the older vehicles probably. Nowadays visual inspection also accompanies the hardware devices. Every vehicle on the road needs to meet the emission standards that are differently allocated for various types of vehicles from lighter vehicles to load carriers.

A vehicle is going through the emission testing.
A vehicle (Toyota car) is going through emission testing(smog testing).

Major things involved in emission ranking

The vehicles emit NOx, oxides of carbon and particular matter alongside many other harmful gases, however, the tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions are considered as the main point of difference in determining the eco-friendly performance of new vehicles. Green Vehicle Guide in Australia provides information to the users on the air pollution standards. The GVG assists the users on how to reduce the negative impact on air quality, especially in urban areas.

Euro Level

The Euro Level that is listed on the Green Vehicle Guide is an indicator of the air pollution standards. A higher Euro level indicates that a locomotive more strictly complied with the prefixed standards. EU regulations have introduced different emission limits for diesel, petrol, and LPG vehicles. Diesel engines are permissible with higher NOx emissions but CO gas emission standards need to have strictly complied. Euro 4 exempted the emissions of particulate matter(PM) but Euro 5 and Euro 6 regulations have introduced particulate matter emission standards probably equivalent to those for the diesel engines.

Emissions from vehicle exhaust

The main emissions from vehicular exhaust based on volume are greenhouse gases. These gases contribute to the climatic failure by trapping the long wave radiations of the sun. In addition to trapping heat and adding to the global heat wave, these greenhouse gas constituents also destroy the light blue cover right above the troposphere. Scientists believe that a single chloride radicle can destroy the thousands of ozone molecules in the stratosphere and this destruction halts the radiation filtering apparatus.

The principal greenhouse gas in the exhaust of the vehicle is carbon dioxide in addition to emitting the oxides of nitrogen and methane. The carbon dioxide emissions are linked with the amount and type of fuel consumed. Almost all new vehicles in Australia are tested to determine the carbon dioxide emission levels.

Greenhouse_gases
Greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, oxides of nitrogen and methane badly trap the sun’s ultraviolet rays. These gases are also emitted from vehicular exhaust besides many other sources.

The test performed produces three types of results. Of these, the result with ‘combined CO2 emission value’ is primarily used for vehicle ranking. The information regarding the amount of CO2 emissions is displayed on the label that is normally attached to the windscreen of the new locomotives.

The vehicles that run on petrol, Liquified Petroleum Gas(LPG) and natural gas are required to comply with the emission values fixed for the hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and oxides of nitrogen and in some cases for particulate matter as well.

Purpose of emission tests

Emission tests are aimed at ensuring the safe levels of toxic gases produced by vehicles. These tests only measure tailpipe emissions by vehicles on the road.

European emission standards

European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of vehicles among EU member states. In Europe, emissions of NOx, THC, CO, non-methane hydrocarbons and particulate matter are regulated for most vehicle types including cars, trucks, tractors and similar machinery with the exception of sea transport and aircraft.

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Emission testing is being performed on the tailpipe of the vehicle – photo source twitter.

Here in Europe, compliance is determined by passing engines through various test cycles and the non-compliant vehicles are not allowed to be sold to customers.

Current scenario

The number of diesel vehicles that are pumping out toxic emissions in Europe is still rising. The Guardian confirmed that more than 7 million such cars and vehicles are running on UK roads alone. There were 29 million diesel vehicles which were emitting significantly higher than laboratory-based EU limits at the time of the dieselgate scandal back in 2015.

Alarmingly, this number now exceeds around 43 million according to the analysis by group Transport & Environment (T&E). Among other European countries, France has more than 8.6 million dirty diesel vehicles followed by Germany with 8.2 million.  The UK ranks third in the list with 7 million dirty diesel vehicles on its roads.

Vehicle safety inspection in the US

In US vehicle safety inspection and emission, inspection tests are governed by the states individually. The clean air act is a US federal law designed to control air pollution and it is one of the most comprehensive air quality laws in the world.

The law is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with the US. states. Later on, Congress amended CCA for states to implement vehicle emission inspection programs generally known as I/M programs.

Stickers on windscreens

In some US states including New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia vehicular inspections are performed annually with the placement of some sort of sticker on the windshield. Inspection procedures are also performed biennially in some US states.
Different vehicle test procedures are applied to different categories of vehicles. For instance, regulations for emissions from passenger cars(light duty vehicles) are different from the regulations for commercial trucks and buses.

US Environmental Protection Agency

EPA in the US works in collaboration with the manufacturing industry to look after the emission protocols. EPA has said to take legal action against car manufacturers if the vehicles exceed the defined pollution limits. The independent, real-world emission tests have shown that diesel cars from almost all manufacturers significantly exceed official NOx pollution limits.

dieselgate_scandal_VW
VW was fined billions of dollars for planting the cheat devices in their vehicles following the dieselgate scandal in September 2015.

The Mercedes and Daimler companies have remained under investigation in the US for using possible defeat(cheat) devices in Mercedes diesel engines. The vehicles which were marketed as eco-friendly were instead exceeding pollution limits. Volkswagen was fined up to $48billion for violating the environmental laws in the US. VW installed software specially designed to cheat the emission control tests.

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The lawsuit was filed against VW on the behalf of Environmental Protection Agency, accusing VW on four counts of violating the US clean air act, tampering with the emission control systems and failing to report violations. VW Beetle models had TDI technology and were one of the 15 models with cheating software.

US_EPA
Transportation alone was responsible for 34 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the US. – source EPA.

Situation for Pakistan

Pakistan is the country that is fighting an equitable battle on three fronts at the same time. These include economic battleground, climatic hardships and an ultimate threat on the eastern and western sides of the borders. In this scenario, the country lacks the institutional capacity to comply with international emission standards.

Two of its big cities already ranks amongst the top 10 worst cities to live in terms of poor air quality. The motorway regulatory authorities and transport authorities must build up the capacity to control and direct the permissible amounts of vehicular exhaust.

NDMA_Pakistan
Pakistan needs to install proper emission testing as pre-disaster management is cost-effective than post-disaster management. The NDMA must play its role for environment safety in collaboration with the ministry of environmental change.

What should be done?

Sales of vehicles with the exceeding limits of pollutants must be prohibited in the first place. Such transport vehicles must be analyzed and fixed.  If not repaired, such vehicles need to be grounded. The use of public transport must be appreciated and the government must build mass transport and circular railways to lessen the traffic density on the roads.

The World Environment Day needs to be celebrated with testing of vehicles for emissions. The criminal negligence on the part of public and administration must be blocked anytime soon as everyone has the right to breathe in clean air.

What do you suggest to improve the environment safety alongside plantation and proper waste management? Please leave the suggestions

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